Steve Cardenas (musician)

Steve Cardenas is a guitarist who began his career in Kansas City, Missouri and has been part of the New York City jazz community since 1995.[1]

Steve Cardenas
BornKansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Years active1978–present
LabelsFresh Sound, Sunnyside
Associated actsPaul Motian

Cardenas was a longstanding member of the Paul Motian Electric Bebop Band (which later became the Paul Motian Octet) and Joey Baron's band, Killer Joey. He is a member of the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Steve Swallow Quintet, Ben Allison Band, John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet, and Jon Cowherd Mercy Project. He has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia, performing at international music festivals, theaters, and clubs. He leads a trio and has released several recordings as a leader.[2][3]

He has also worked with Mark Isham, Marc Johnson, Norah Jones, Paul McCandless, Maria Muldaur and Madeleine Peyroux.[2]

Cardenas is on faculty at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City.[3] He has been on the faculty at the California Institute of the Arts,[2] Siena Summer Jazz Workshop, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, and Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony. Cardenas is co-author, with editor Don Sickler, of the Thelonious Monk Fakebook, released by Hal Leonard Publishing. The Thelonious Monk Fakebook marks the first time all of Monk's compositions have appeared in one volume, many the first time.


As leader

  • Shebang (Fresh Sound, 2000)
  • Panoramic (Fresh Sound, 2004)
  • West of Middle (Sunnyside, 2010)
  • Melody in a Dream (Sunnyside, 2014)
  • Charlie & Paul (Newvelle, 2018)

As sideman

With Ben Allison

  • 2006 Cowboy Justice (Palmetto)
  • 2008 Little Things Run the World (Palmetto)
  • 2009 Think Free (Palmetto)
  • 2011 Action-Refraction (Palmetto)
  • 2013 The Stars Look Very Different Today (Sonic Camera)
  • 2016 Quiet Revolution (Newvelle)
  • 2017 Layers of the City (Sonic Camera)

With Jeff Beal

  • 1991 Objects in the Mirror (Triloka)
  • 1993 Three Graces (Triloka)
  • 1994 Contemplations (Triloka)

With Jim Campilongo

  • 2010 Orange (Blue Hen)
  • 2014 Dream Dictionary (Blue Hen)

With Brandon Fields

  • 1994 Brandon Fields (Positive Music)
  • 1995 A Coffeehouse Christmas

With Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra

With Rebecca Martin

  • 1999 Thoroughfare
  • 2002 Middlehope (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  • 2004 People Behave Like Ballads (Maxjazz)

With Kate McGarry

  • 2001 Show Me (Palmetto)
  • 2005 Mercy Streets (Palmetto)

With Paul Motian

With others



  1. Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2001). All Music Guide. Hal Leonard. pp. 1313–. ISBN 978-0-87930-627-4. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  2. Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  3. Adler, David R. "Steve Cardenas". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  4. "Steve Cardenas | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 March 2017.

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